Treatments for Gallstones (Cholelithiasis) in Children

How are gallstones treated?

Gallstones must be treated with surgery to remove the gallbladder.

  • There are no successful medical treatments of gallstones either to dissolve the stones or to use ultrasound to pulverize them and let them pass spontaneously through the bile ducts.
  • Stones will almost always reform in the gallbladder if it is not removed.

What kind of surgery will my child have to remove her gall bladder?

It's called laparoscopic cholecystectomy, and it's a minimally invasive procedure. Your child will need general anesthesia for the procedure.

How it works

During surgery four small incisions will be made on your child's abdomen, through which a telescope is passed to observe the operation as it is performed with instruments placed through the other three openings.

Your child will have four small dressings (clear plastic bandage over gauze) on her abdomen.

What about open surgery?

Rarely, an "open" procedure through an incision below the ribs may be necessary. This may be required if there is scarring, inflammation, bleeding or unusual anatomy of the common bile duct which prevents safe performance of the laparoscopy.

Can there be any complications?

Occasionally, a gallstone remains in your child's bile ducts after removal of the gallbladder. In most cases, the stone can be safely removed by passing a flexible telescope through the mouth and stomach into the first part of the intestine.

What happens after surgery?

Your child will go to the recovery room for one to two hours, then to the surgical floor.

After surgery:

  • Your child may drink fluids the evening after the operation.

  • Your child will receive pain medicine through the IV the evening after the operation.

  • The morning following the operation, if your child is not too nauseous, she may eat breakfast.

  • Your child will be given a prescription for pain medication at time of discharge. Give pain medicine as prescribed and instructed by your doctor and nurse.